INdiana Systemic Thinking

December 19, 2007

Catching Up: TaJanay Bailey Case

As regular readers of this blog have noted, the Blogmeister is way behind on posts.  In an effort to catch up, I will group a few stories, published over that last few days, together.

Yesterday, the South Bend Tribune, in an editorial, had this to say on the TaJanay Bailey case regarding the sharing of information between DCS and Law Enforcement:

This effort to better share information among those who serve as the last line of defense for vulnerable children is a step in that direction.

Yep, it’s a step, but a small one.  Not to mention a possible breach of confidentiality and it does not address the real issues in the system.

Also yesterday, the South Bend Tribune had this to say in another editorial:

It also was a heartbreaking example of the need for child protective agencies to trust and act on the judgment of those in the field, who are responding to what they are seeing.

The necessity for at least one change seems apparent: A DCS supervisor’s policy- based judgment should not trump the opinions of two or three feet-on-the-ground team members.

But then those perspectives must be respected. The people who are compelled by what they see to call for action must have the authority to do so, without contradiction or retribution. If they err on the side of caution from time to time, so be it.

This editorial is more to the point of what needs to change in the DCS system, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.  If you are going to have a team concept, take it all the way and don’t just pay it lip service.  Too bad this tragedy had to occur for the agency to learn that lesson.

Moving on.  Today the Indy Star and WTHR were in court attempting to get more records on the case.  From the Indy Star story:

After TaJanay’s Nov. 27 death, Judge Marilyn Moores granted public access to the 3-year-old Indianapolis girl’s juvenile court file documenting her most recent Child in Need of Services case, which began in May 2006. Moores also has released about 1,500 pages from her state Department of Child Services case file.

On the table now is whether to release juvenile court records from a 2004 child-welfare case involving TaJanay; a similar case involving her 7-month-old brother, Lawrence Green Jr.; and the juvenile criminal record of her mother, Charity Bailey. Moores said she would rule soon.

The judge expects to release more records from TaJanay’s DCS case file on Wednesday, much of it from the earlier case that started in 2004 shortly after TaJanay’s birth.

Separately, The Star has asked Moores for a transcript of the last court hearing before TaJanay died, on Aug. 30 before Magistrate Scott Stowers. At that hearing, Stowers gave approval to DCS to move forward with a plan for unsupervised visits, which led to the start Oct. 31 of a 30-day trial reunification.

The Star’s attorney, Jan Carroll, argued the documents will help shed light on whether the child-welfare system could have done something to prevent TaJanay’s death. Public defenders objected to the document releases, arguing they violated Bailey’s right to privacy and could harm her defense in the criminal case. They also said the files for TaJanay’s brother, who is in a foster home, should remain confidential because he is still alive.

The Blogmeister completely supports the Star and WTHR in this effort.  While most questions have been answered, the ultimate one, why she was placed with her mother on August 30 remains unanswered.  It would ultimately benefit the citizens of the state to see how these decisions are made and demand, if needed, changes so this never happens again.

Catching Up: IN 7th District

WTHR is reporting the following people are interested in filing to run for the seat left vacant by the death of Julia Carson;  Andre Carson (D),  John Elrod (R), Wayne Harmon (unknown), Carl Drummer (D), Carolene Mays (D), Greg Porter (D).

In another story, WTHR has released a Q&A from Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita concerning special elections that is very informative.  Carson’s successor will be elected via a special election that will be called by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Hat tip to Advance Indiana who reports the Republican National Committee will not help with funds for Republicans who seek Carson’s seat due to the high probability it will go to a Democrat.

The Evansville Courier & Press discusses Carson’s interest in a local project, “Lyles Station was founded in the 1840s by freed slaves. It later became a stopover for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Back at Advance Indiana, it appears the scuttlebutt is a “dark horse” candidate may be endorsed by the Democrats to stop warring factions in the party.  The name being floated is Randle Pollard, who works for Ice Miller.

Finally, there are tributes to Carson here, here, and here.

Catching Up: FSSA Gets Sued

Hat tip to Blue Indiana for picking up the story of a class action lawsuit filed against Governor Mitch Daniels, and FSSA Director Mitch Robb, for their handling of the contract with Liberty Health Care.  Liberty was contracted to close down the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette weighed in with this:

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in July that the state didn’t follow proper bidding procedures required under Indiana law when it gave Liberty Healthcare a contract in May 2005 to manage the facility.

Later that year, the state and Liberty negotiated a long-term contract to fully privatize the center. It ran retroactively from Aug. 1, 2005, to the end of 2007, or 90 days after the last resident left. There was no public bidding for either contract.

That case is on appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, names Gov. Mitch Daniels as a defendant and charges that employees lost their state jobs at the center when the facility was privatized illegally.

All 836 state employees were set to become employees of Liberty on Jan. 1, 2006, but more than 60 employees chose to retire – avoiding the changeover.

The remaining employees’ jobs were protected until March 31. In the meantime, 696 applied for a continuing job with Liberty and about 80 of those failed a necessary drug test or criminal background check.

That meant Liberty offered jobs to 612 employees, with 586 accepting.

The lawsuit claims that many employees lost the benefits associated with state employment, and that the contract with Liberty should be declared void.

“The Daniels administration flagrantly violated the law,” said David Warrick, executive director of AFSCME, the union representing the employees.

“Compliance with Indiana’s public bidding laws is a fundamental check on executive authority and ensures that the governor will not enter into sweetheart deals, like the multimillion-dollar contract with Liberty, without public input.”

The center has now been closed since April – something Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob said was the right thing to do to a facility rife with abuse and neglect violations.

“It was a dysfunctional culture. Our first and only responsibility was and is to the health and safety of the residents,” he said. “This is a pathetic stunt by AFSCME. Every single employee was offered employment with Liberty during the closure process.”

Blue Indiana comes back with this:

Perhaps I am misreading the whole situation, but it sure seems like Mitch Roob is confused about why he is being sued. It’s my understanding that there were a quite a few bad apples amongst the bunch at the FWDC, and that in a sense, the privatization effort was successful on some fronts. Sure, he can attack his own people once again and describe conditions under his control as a “dysfunctional culture,” but we already knew that Mitch Roob hates his own employees.

The issue wasn’t the closing, it was the contract. Specifically, the fact that the multi-million dollar deal wasn’t offered to anyone else. There are rules about these sort of things, and those rules were blatantly disregarded by the state when they simply handed Liberty Healthcare a big bag o’ money and told them to close things as fast and furious as they could.

United CEO Gets Slap on Wrist

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette comes this story.

Corporate chieftains may be getting the wrong message from United Health Group CEO William McGuire’s $420 million settlement for his role in a stock-options backdating scandal that still leaves him with several hundred million dollars in hand.

When it was announced this month, it was billed as the largest corporate giveback ever, as if that was supposed to assuage shareholders of the nation’s second-largest health insurer who lost big because of McGuire’s stock-options shenanigans. That payback, along previous deals with McGuire and other executives, brings the total being returned to UnitedHealth to nearly $1 billion.

While that sounds like no small change, then compare it with this: He still keeps all cash paid to him during his 15-year tenure at the company’s helm and is likely to retain stock options that today have an $800 million value.

“If this penalty is returning unjust enrichment, then where is the sting?” asked Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at University of Delaware. “A penalty should crimp an individual’s lifestyle, but this punishment certainly would not.”

That’s not to say that this victory isn’t an important one. As some governance experts note, at least money is flowing back to this company at a value rarely seen.

At issue here is the “backdating” of stock options.  In it’s simplest form, it involves giving a CEO the option to buy and stock at some point in the future at a fixed price.  Fine, although ultimately advantageous for the person with the option, if they make the right decisions and buy and sell like the rest of us.  The “backdating” issue involves choosing a date in the past to buy or sell so it is even more advantageous, and very illegal. 

Bartlett Chosen to Finish Dickinson Term

From the Indy Star:

John Bartlett, an employee of Rolls Royce Co., was elected Monday night by Democrat precinct commiteemen to fill the remainder of the legislative term of State Rep. Mae Dickinson.

Dickinson, D-Indianapolis, retired recently after representing District 95 in the Indiana House of Representatives since 1992.

Bartlett, a 59-year-old United Auto Workers member, was chosen by a vote of 29-9 over Lonnell “King Ro” Conley, an at-large member of the City-County Council who lost his bid for re-election to the council in November.

U.S. Rep Pete Visclosky Robbed

Filed under: Uncategorized — kurtglmft @ 9:17 am
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From the Indy Star

The 12-term congressman from northwest Indiana was robbed about 9 p.m. Friday as he was walking alone with groceries to his car.

“I was putting my grocery bag on the back seat when I was grabbed from behind. I never saw it coming,” Visclosky said Saturday.

The man demanded his wallet and keys. He escaped with about $10 in cash and Visclosky’s credit cards. The credit cards have since been canceled.

Visclosky did not believe the robber realized who he was. But he described the experience, which lasted less than a minute, as “terrifying.”

The man fled around the north side of the building. Police used a dog to try to track the suspect.

“It’s an unfortunate situation that happens about this time of year because of the holiday,” said Merrillville Town Council President Sean Pettit.

This is a serious event, and the Blogmeister knows the trauma something such as this can cause.  However, I’m reminded of the old joke:  A democrat is simply a republican who hasn’t been mugged yet.  No word on a change of party from the representative.

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